How Chris Found Study.com Online Videos
One of our September 2012 Study.com teacher grant winners, Chris Fletcher, discovered that he could completely change the way he teaches through integrating our video lessons within his core curriculum. His school was starting to move towards using more technology in the classroom and that led Chris to our website and our videos. When he found our website, he was specifically looking for videos covering the concepts he was teaching in his classes. Chris said, 'I started exploring some of the videos and found that they aligned pretty nicely with our curriculum, so it seemed like a perfect thing to try.'
Using Technology in the Classroom
Chris is beginning to use the videos from Study.com in a pre-calculus class, and he has already used our videos in a calculus course. Chris explained how he structured lessons using this new component: 'I've put together a chapter long syllabus, in which I used Google docs, and I created all the hyperlinks - that's a link directly to the video. Along with that, I put the textbook assignment.' Chris went on to say, 'The first couple of videos, they weren't sure exactly how it work(ed), so we did them together (in) the computer lab. I showed the transcript part of it. I showed them where the quiz part of it is, and I said, All right, let's try this, and you go home (and) watch these videos. Watch this as many times (as) you need. Stop them whenever you need. Do the problems, and then come on in, and we'll talk about it.'
Chris explained that, in the beginning, students would come to class and discuss the videos after watching them at home. He would ask what questions the students had and go over parts of the video where they felt they needed more instruction or to double check that they were doing the problems correctly. Now that his students are used to the videos, Chris told us that they just 'go home, watch the video, come in, and we do problems.'
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Feedback on the Video Lessons
When working with the lessons and implementing them in his class, Chris was curious about what his students thought of them. He said when he talked to students about using the videos 'they were saying how they liked the ability to stop them and to just think about it and (start) it back up if they need to watch again. There's a couple of kids that what they do is they take the transcript, and they kind of summarize and pull out the important information (from it). They make their notes out of it (and make) the study sheet that they want for that chapter.' Chris went on to say that some students tried the quizzes, and they liked them: '(The quizzes) give them some immediate feedback on how they're doing. If they don't (understand what they learned), they can go back, watch it again and try it again.'
When asked about his opinions on the quizzes, Chris stated that he liked the length of the quizzes because they weren't too long or overwhelming. He did suggest that we consider a way to score the quizzes and then send that score to the teachers to be used as an actual quiz grade. He also would like to see a tracking method that shows the teacher how many tries it took for the student to get the correct answer for each quiz question.
When asked about his opinion of using the videos, he said, 'The thing that I liked about the videos is that it allows me to get more into the reason why you do math, not just how to do math. I don't have to spend all the time in class now teaching the topic. That's done at home through the use of the videos. So, when they come in, we can take it, we can practice it and we can take it further.' Chris takes things further through fun, special projects that allow the students to use creative thinking and get involved in their education.
Tip From Chris: Just Try It
We asked Chris what advice he would give to other teachers who are considering implementing our video lessons in their classrooms. He responded, 'My message to them is to just immerse yourself in it. These kids can become the experts on the technology and teach you things that you didn't realize, and it just becomes a much better experience for everyone. Allowing the kids to have some freedom as to how they learn, I think, is fantastic.'
He also stated to teachers who may feel a bit technically challenged, 'Find someone that is maybe a little bit more comfortable or experienced, and buddy up with them, and give it a shot. You've got to try it. If you don't try it, then you'll never know. (The technology side of these videos is) very user-friendly. It's very easy to navigate it. It's very easy to watch the videos. It's not intimidating at all once you get into it. But for some teachers, just getting to that initial starting point can sometimes be the most intimidating part. They don't have to overwhelm themselves. Try a little bit at a time. If you're nervous about trying an entire unit, don't try an entire unit. Do one topic in one unit, and see how it goes. Get a little bit of feedback from the kids, and then go from there.'
Plans for the Grant Money
Chris is especially excited about being the teacher grant recipient. One of the special projects he is doing with his class involves groups of student giving presentations. These presentations will involve creating commercials or infomercials. Chris mentioned that '(the students have to do the commercials and infomercials) on an iPad and where (they're) going to be doing the presentations, there are no projectors that they can use, so one of the ideas that I was toying with for the grant money is to purchase a portable projector. We can take the presentation to wherever we need to.' Chris also mentioned that the grant money may be used for other technology that will help parents to see what is happening in the classroom and see how technology is being used by their children and the school.
Is your school starting to push for more technology in the classroom? Are you wondering how you can put technology to use to teach your students? Could you use extra funding for technology-based class projects? Check out the Study.com teacher grant!